READY TO RACE: Justin Sedgmen will make his Speedway Grand Prix debut at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium next week. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
THE excitement of competing in a Grand Prix and following the tyre tracks of his speedway idols is building for Mildura star Justin Sedgmen.
The 25-year-old is in the main field for next weekend’s Australian Speedway Grand Prix (SGP) to be held at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
The 2017 Australian Championship runner-up will tackle the world’s best riders in his SGP debut, including current World Championship leader Jason Doyle, under lights next Saturday night.
Justin is only recently back to full health after a significant shoulder injury and concussion while racing in the British Elite League this year. The Olympic Park star was initially the first reserve for the event, however he was promoted to the starting line-up after fellow Aussie Max Fricke was ruled out with consecutive concussions. Fricke was initially an injury replacement for Sweden’s Freddie Lindgren.
“It’s every kids dream to race at a Grand Prix,” Justin said.
“For me to be able to do that in my home State is really exciting. I’m getting to race in a field with 15 other riders that are the best in the world.
“As a Mildura boy, you grow up watching and hearing about the efforts of guys like Phil and Jason Crump, Leigh Adams and Jason Lyons competing in Grand Prix’s. These guys were, and still are, my idols. To follow in their footsteps and race in a Grand Prix will be an unbelievable experience. I don’t consider myself a Grand Prix level rider but I can say afterwards that I’ve done it and I can say I’ve raced alongside, and hopefully do well, against some of the world’s best riders.
“The Australian SGP fields will now also go off the Australian Championship results. Obviously Sam (Masters) as the winner got in, and now I’m lucky enough to be joining him. I think it helps put a bit more prestige and extra incentive into performing well at the Australian Championships.”
Justin admitted he had ridden injured for most of the British Speedway season after breaking his shoulder blade and badly injuring his AC joint.
Worse was to come however while racing for Ipswich in Wolverhampton in July. Justin crashed into rider Ellis Perks, which resulted in the Aussie flipping over his handles, and his bike landing on his head. While he avoided serious injury, the resulting concussion was enough for Justin to finish his season early.
“After I got knocked out, my body kind of said to me ‘enough is enough’,” he said.
“I went and saw a surgeon who helped me to get it right, and set me up for eight weeks of intensive rehab. I returned to Australia three weeks ago and finished my rehab last week.
“The shoulder feels pretty good and I feel ready to race again. In speedway there is a lot of trauma that goes through your body, especially if you crash. There is always a chance of aggravating it.”
Justin also hopes to have the best seat in the house if his best mate Doyle secures the World Championship in his home country.
“Jason is 14 points clear, and for me to potentially be in the same race where he secures the World Title would be a great experience,” he said.
“It’s amazing, there are a lot of people who have put in a lot of effort to allow me to have this opportunity.”
Tickets for the Melbourne event are still available online.